SOME REFLECTIONS ON OUR TIMES AND OUR RESPONSES TO THEM
Source: Rev. Arthur J. Fox, Calvary Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Middletown, PA
I have been reading and thinking about the responses of brothers and sisters in Christ, on Facebook and in blogs, to the (re-) election and policies of the administration and members of congress. For a while I wondered why those responses troubled me. They appear to range from dismay and fear to a sense of impending doom and coming conflict (perhaps armed). What I have seen very little of, save from those who serve as pastors and theologians, is a realization of how all of this is spoken to by Scripture. As a result, much of what is written is emotional and of very little use at best. At worst it speaks of a lack of trust in what the Bible has to say to God’s people at this particular point in history.
In the HBO mini-series, Band of Brothers, there is a scene where the 101st Airborne is beginning to march into position in the forest of Bastogne. As they march someone warns then Captain Richard Winters that he and his men were about to be surrounded. His response was memorable: “We Are Paratroopers Lieutenant ….. We Are Supposed To Be Surrounded.” I believe this is the correct assessment of the Church in any age.
The world consists of two broad groups of men and women: those who are in Christ and those who are not. Those in Christ are supposed to be seeking first the Kingdom of God in all they do. They are in the world but not of it. Those outside of Christ hate, seek to oppose and even destroy the Kingdom of God (see Psalm 2:1). These two groups are in fact in a state of war with one another, as Genesis 3:15 said they would be. Christians are loyal to the seed of the woman, Jesus Christ, while non-Christians are loyal to the Serpent. It has ever been thus and remains so to this day. Furthermore, those who do not believe in Christ outnumber those who do.
Why then do we find it surprising that we who live in the 21st Century are surrounded by unbelief and being affected by the policies of those who oppose Christ and his Kingdom? Why do we find it so surprising that laws seem more and more aimed at marginalizing the Church, limiting our ability to express our faith, and making us conform to the perverted lifestyles of those who hate Christ? It is called persecution, and we have brothers and sisters throughout the world who would give anything to have things only as bad as we have it right now!
It could be worse, and perhaps one day will be. For now, however, in America we are still free to worship on Sundays and pray and carry our Bibles with us wherever we go. We are free to appeal to our representatives to change laws we do not agree with or that we believe are threatening our constitutional rights. We are free to support businesses that are having their freedoms curtailed by legislation requiring them to do things they cannot in good conscience do and still call themselves Christians. But do we recognize that these rights are the gift of our God? That he is free to remove these from us for his own good purposes?
My point is simply this: We are Christians, we are supposed to be surrounded. Christ said we would be: “In this world you will have trouble.” As Christians who are feeling overwhelmed by the changes that have taken place in the last 4 years we need to stop and take a breath. We need to remember that God is still in heaven, that there is no authority except that which is set in place by God (Romans 13:1) and respond biblically to what we think they are doing wrong—and that means showing respect and honor to our leaders as we exercise our constitutional rights. Above all else we need to trust our Father in Heaven and our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the rule over Presidents, Congresses and Courts, to do what will bring them the most glory. In the end Jesus shall reign over all and destroy all of his and our enemies. It is way above our pay grade to try to do this for him!
In the meantime, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, stop, take a breath, pray more and whine less. Spend more time in your Bible and in books that teach you about Christ and how to follow him. Don’t post things that are disrespectful to those in authority, especially if it involves unedifying/foul language, don’t act as though Christ has vacated the throne, and stop being surprised when things are going against your wishes or you are placed outside your comfort zone. Remember what Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but fear not, I have overcome the world.”
Your servant for Christ’s sake—Arthur J. Fox
Rev. Fox pastors Calvary Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Middletown, Pennsylvania.